Yesterday we celebrated the 14th birthday of our daughter Ellie. Our family has a tradition where the birthday person chooses the birthday supper. Ellie chose lasagna (which is her usual choice). Another part of our family birthday celebration is playing the praise game. Each person takes a turn telling something they like about the birthday person or something kind they have done for them. As we all took turns telling our favorite things about Ellie, I was thinking about how easy it is to find things about her to praise. Ellie is an unusual young lady. She isn't anything that I thought a teenage girl would be like - no drama, tears,extreme hormones, or attitude. She is not perfect by any means but she is very quick to work through her sins and weaknesses. She is consistently working at her relationships with her brothers, friends, us parents and with the Lord. Even as a small child, I would look at her and she would well up with tears if she knew she was doing something wrong. She is definitely what I would call a "heart" person. She loves little children and adults alike. Her compassion and empathy for people is very obvious to those of us who have the privilege of living with her. On the other hand, Ellie is fearless. Kaley shared last night that she appreciates how Ellie will kill bugs for her - they both live in our basement and bugs show up occasionally. Ellie also has shown strength of character with her recent scoliosis diagnosis. It's not that she is not afraid of anything, but she really understands that she has a Father in heaven that she can trust no matter what life throws her way. I believe she has such a strong understanding of God because her Earthly Father is so strong, trustworthy and kind. Even at 14, Ellie still loves to run and jump into her Daddy's arms.
This morning I was reading in Luke, just after Mary had given birth, then shepherds and wise men came, angels were singing and praising God. Luke 2:19 says "But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart." Jesus was but a baby and Mary could not possible know all that would happen with his life and death. She couldn't have understood that he would take on the sins of the world in his tragic death but be resurrected to life again, giving the world hope. That this little baby would still be changing peoples lives mores than 2000 years later. I wonder if at each of Jesus's birthdays his family would take turns sharing their favorite things about him. How could they even imagine that He was God's plan of salvation. That all of us would fall short of ever being good enough and would need the sacrifice of the blood of Jesus to wash us clean as snow. This gift that is free but which so many choose not to accept. As the celebration of Jesus's birth draws near, these are the things that I appreciate and want to acknowledge and praise Jesus for: his extravagant love for me, the home He is preparing in heaven for me, his unconditional love and example He is to me, and most of all, that He would willing leave the glory of heaven to come down to Earth to "dwell among us". It is a privilege to be an adopted child in His family and be a witness of His amazing character. Happy Birthday Jesus!